Oh, those lovely content plans that we start at the beginning of the year. They last for about three weeks and then it all goes out of the window and we’re winging it.

When I did a survey with my Thursday Brew readers, 100% of people who answered said that they struggled with keeping to their content plan. So if this is you, you are not alone. Take comfort in this.

However, not everyone fails to stick to a content plan. There’s a reason that some businesses can stick to it. And it’s not that they have a team to do it for them (although this helps).

What is a content plan?

Let’s start by looking at what a content plan is and is not. A content plan is having a high-level idea of what you’re going to put out in the next month (at least) or quarter (ideally) for your business.

You plan out in advance so you’re not wasting time and mental energy wondering what to plan that day. And you actually look at the plan before creating your content so you know what you need to put out.

This doesn’t take away from being reactionary and creating on the fly – although it does minimise this – but it does mean you know what you’re selling so you know what you’re posting.

There’s a whole blog about what a content plan is and how to create one right here. It even has a free (no email needed) template to get you started.

Why do we fail at sticking to the plan?

We’re human. We’re pretty useless at change. It takes us for-blinking-ever to change our thinking and our behaviours. Our brains don’t actually like change and they see it as a threat so try to protect us from it. Not very helpful when we’re trying to be better people. More helpful when we’re being hunted or looking for dangers way back in pre-history.

This is why when we create a shiny new plan, we don’t tend to stick to it. We’re probably good for about ten or 15 days and then we creep back into our old behaviours.

Instead, we need to change our habits. Changing habits takes the best part of a year. So all those lovely 7 and 30-day challenges to nail our Reels or TikTok are not massively helpful to kickstart our new content habits (even though they make us feel like it’s helping).

What we do need is motivation to stick at it. We need that carrot or that stick (or both) to keep going until we do eventually form a new habit.

How to stick to a content plan

I stick to content plans because I’m paid to do it. The financial incentive of paying my bills and eating is enough to make me turn up when I’m meant to and complete something by a deadline.

The consequences of not doing it are greater for me when I’m doing it for my clients.

When it comes to my Thursday Brew, no one is going to tell me off for not sending it out. For my own content, I need another motivation.

I’ve done many different versions of my newsletter over the years and the only thing that has worked is treating it like a magazine article that I get to research and write each week. I pick things that interest me and see if I can apply a new angle or voice to them.

This is a hugely selfish thing to do – picking something I enjoy – but it works a charm. I get replies to my Brew emails every single week. And I get an abundance of joy out of writing them. This is why I sit down every Tuesday and turn my scribbled notes into something that makes sense.

My motivation is enjoyment. Getting to do writing that I’m not able to do anywhere else.

It’s also about being accountable. If you know that you’ve got to show up at a meeting and show what you’ve been up to – that you’ve done what you said you’d do – then you’re more likely to do it.

I’m also in a mastermind group that does just this. And you know what? I show up and do the work on my business rather than put it off.

When it comes to sticking to your content plan, you need to have a carrot or a stick. You need accountability.

If this is you, I’m running accountability sessions throughout 2023 to help plan quarterly content and keep you on track to deliver it. It’s going to come with a free copy of my vegan content planner. If you’re interested, stick your details in the box below and I’ll send you the details when it’s about to launch.

What to do when it goes tits up

I like to think of sticking to a content plan as being a bit like dieting. You go in all guns blazing trying to fix everything all at once. You don’t go onto a diet making small changes, oh no no because that would take too long.

Nope, you go into a diet to change your entire lifestyle. It’s not just the diet, it’s the daily exercise plan that you’ve got, and you’re going to cut back on coffee as well and maybe stop drinking.

Then you go out for a meal, have that tasty thing on the menu and a few glasses of wine and, oh go on then I will look at the dessert menu. And who needs to do that run tomorrow?

It’s the same for our content plans. We go in with the best of intentions and then we have a busy day so that post doesn’t go out. And what do you know? The kids are off school ill so all your blog writing time is out of the window. No blog that week. And well, no one really noticed so the next week goes and then the next.

Instead, if we did one thing and built up from there then it would be far easier to stick with.

Over the past couple of years, I have sent a Thursday Brew out every single week bar one. And on that week I sent a notice that I had covid and there would be no Brew because I couldn’t prize my eyelids open long enough to look at the screen.

It’s okay for things to go tits up from time to time. The point is that you get right back on it because you’ve only got one thing to do.

My one thing is my Thursday Brew. That is my bare minimum. If I do that then everything else is just a bonus. Didn’t post on LinkedIn for a week? Not a problem. No blog coming out? Well, I can update some old ones instead.

The point is that you make your plan work for you. And you do this by creating a strategy you can stick to. And that strategy leads to an actual goal. Instead of creating the plan first, you create that after you’ve done the strategy. Then you know what is the bare minimum. So that when you do have a bad week, you can manage the minimum and still be promoting your business to the right people.

Ready to get started?

Do this today – decide on the one thing you absolutely must do to market your business. I’ll give you a clue: it’s not social media. It could be your newsletter or your blog or your video channel. Whatever it is, make sure you’ve got a plan in place for the quarter about what you want to talk about.

Take a day out to do this if you need to. Future you will thank you for it.